With the rise of a thriving street-food scene in the Twin Cities, many food-lovers have hit the streets. By now, you may have even discovered a few favorites of your own—carnitas tacos from Barrio, a salmon slider from Fork in the Road or perhaps the chicken curry with basmati rice from She Royal Deli.
If you know how well street fare goes down at lunchtime (downtown workers may be especially aware), you might consider treating your wedding guests by hiring a food truck to come out on your big day, either for the complete menu or as an add-on for a late-night snack. Friends and family will love the element of surprise and the convenience of being able to walk up and grab a bite at their whim.
Minneapolis native Leo Zabezhinsky was only joking when he mentioned hiring the Turkey to Go food truck to his fiancée for their August 2010 wedding. He had been a devout lover of the juicy turkey sandwich from the time he first tasted one at the Minnesota State Fair a couple years earlier. Unbeknownst to him, his bride-to-be called them up and arranged for the truck to pull up at the private residence where the festivities were held, and start serving turkey sandwiches just around midnight.
Leo was over the moon about it, as were the guests, who were feeling a bit peckish after a couple hours of drinks and dancing. “The food truck fit very well into our night, which was very free-flowing,” he says. “We sent our guests away happy—and they weren’t sent home hungry, that’s for sure.”
Weddings at private residences are a good fit for food trucks, since you won’t have to worry about permission from a venue or restrictions to an exclusive caterer. In most cases, the truck can’t serve from the street, so it will need a place to park on the property. Farm settings with an abundance of open space also work well. Carrie Summer of Chef Shack, a mobile kitchen run by two acclaimed local chefs, recently catered a wedding meal for a couple of Chef Shack regulars in a remote corner of Lakeville. Set near a forest with meadows, tented areas were put up for guests to socialize, and the big red Chef Shack truck delighted guests with a meal of fish and pork tacos, along with salad, brownies and vanilla ice cream, right there in the dining tent.
Generally, mobile food vendors will customize their menus to your tastes, but the cuisine leans toward laid-back, picnic-style fare. If you also have your heart set on a classy plated affair, consider serving a more elegant meal early on, then follow it up with snack foods for the wee hours, as Zabezhinsky did.
As a starting point, executive chef Bill Fairbanks of Barrio asks clients what they’ve enjoyed at Barrio’s restaurants, then creates a personalized menu with a variety of tacos or small plates for the mobile meal. The She Royal food truck serves cuisine with an African and Mediterranean bent, like red lentils with cabbage or greens, sambusas and Greek gyros, but owner Hana Benti says they also do burgers, hot dogs and Philly cheese steak sandwiches. The popularity of simple sandwiches from the Fork in the Road truck has really impressed partners Kari Offerdahl and Amy Frechette, the latter of whom says the buffalo chicken sandwich with homemade blue cheese spread and the barbecued pulled-pork grilled cheese with caramelized onions have really taken off. Since their truck is outfitted with an oven, the menu also works well for day-after brunches, with caramel rolls, quiches and frittatas.
The cost of a food truck can vary dramatically. While most vendors don’t have a strict minimum, some start at less than $1,000, while others have a minimum of $3,000. The Chef Shack’s Summer notes a common misconception that “truck food” equals cheaper, but their pricing is more in line with one of the higher-end caterers in the city. That’s because of their focus on organic, natural, farm-fresh produce, dairy and meats, but for passionate Chef Shack fans, that’s not a deterrent. “People seek us out for our specific cuisine style and for the uniqueness of our trucks. I think that’s really the novelty of having a truck at an event,” she says.
Turkey to Go is at the lower end of the range, starting at around $750, but partner Drew Levin says the budgets his clients work with run the gamut. Several factors affect pricing, the most obvious being the number of guests. (Most vendors accommodate up to 300 guests handily, and some prefer a minimum of 100 guests, so you’ll want to clarify that up front.) The food selected and the size of your menu also affect price, since that will drive the cost of ingredients, and with more extensive menus, may require more staff to turn out your nosh. Travel costs can also bump up the price if the truck needs to travel a long distance.
If you’re feeling ready to sign on for food-truck fare at your wedding, a veritable brigade of vendors is standing at the ready. Most of them, like those mentioned here, have a catering license, so they function just like any other caterer you’d hire. It can be as simple as choosing a menu and leaving the rest to the truck.
Keep on Truckin’
Here’s a taste of the offerings from these local mobile food vendors.
- Turkey to Go Turkey sandwiches, drumsticks
- Barrio Tacos, shrimp skewers, crab empanadas
- She Royal Fried chicken, gyros, sambusas
- Chef Shack Bison burgers, nachos, crème brulée
- Fork in the Road Tacos, soups, sandwiches
- 128 Café BLTs, ribs, salads
- Smack Shack Lobster rolls, po’ boys, Key lime pie
- World Street Kitchen Lamb tacos, meatball sandwiches, corn on the cob